by CDK Global | 1 June 2013

Don't Hang Up Your Phone Communication Skills

Even in the digital age when most dealerships have a comprehensive online presence, most customers still phone the dealership before visiting the showroom. That means that many of your customers’ first impressions of your dealership happen over the phone.

Is your staff putting your dealership’s best foot forward? Are they prepared to answer incoming Sales calls and get people in the door? When was the last time you made sure your staff’s phone skills were up to snuff?

It is not just about making sure the people who answer the phones are performing well; although that is critical. Think about your phone system … does it tell you who is calling? Give you one-click access to customer information? Track calls so you can make sure no one got lost in the system?

You can have the best, most skillfully trained staff answering the phones, but if you’re giving your staff outdated phone equipment that doesn’t support the way business and calls flow through your dealership, you’re setting your team up to mishandle all those incoming calls. And that means you might be missing out on valuable Sales opportunities.

After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Top 3 ways to improve your phone communication skills right now

Whether your staff’s phone communication skills are subpar, above average or somewhere in between, there is always room for improvement. Here are three approaches that can help separate your dealership from the rest:

1. Look for training, consulting, and coaching tools with hands-on, visual tactics and reminders.

There is a variety of training, consulting, coaching and other tools to help get more customers off the phone and onto your showroom floor. Look for training solutions that include visual reminders that help you be prepared and poised for virtually any phone call.

2. Combine phone communication skills training with technologies that support your investment in your team.

When you combine training and coaching with a sophisticated phone system that integrates with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and Dealer Management System (DMS), you will have all the answers you need at your fingertips to manage more calls, more effectively. For example, when today’s IP phone systems are integrated with your DMS, you will see a “screen pop” when a customer calls your dealership. One click gives you access to the full customer record, so you will know whether it is a long-time customer who is ready for a new vehicle, a newer customer who is ready for Service, or a Parts customer. This integration helps your team direct incoming calls to the right person, every time—positively affecting your customer satisfaction rating.

3. Manage call statistics to improve customer satisfaction.

Today’s most effective phone systems take communication one step further—managing inbound calling patterns to provide insights that will help you manage your dealership based on statistics rather than relying on opinions. Excuses, such as “The phones are slow today,” or “Of course I followed up,” can be verified with detailed reports on your phone traffic in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand graphical format.

One of the most frustrating sights to see is a phone call not answered by an employee. Over-staff your dealership and your operating cost will soar; under-staff and you are wasting your marketing dollars and ignoring countless revenue opportunities. With detailed reporting, you can make informed staffing decisions by analyzing call volumes, missed calls and calls that go to voicemail, recognizing patterns based on the time of day and week.

It has never been more important to attract and retain more customers—at a profit margin that keeps your dealership competitive. With the right practice, tactics and hands-on tools, you will see a dramatic improvement in your customer retention efforts.

<?php //D7 $block = module_invoke('block', 'block_view', '78'); print render($block['content']); ?>